Monday, November 21, 2011

November 21, 2011

A Look Back at Saturday around the Pac-12


Offense:   Another week, another slow start for the offense. In reality, though, BOTH offenses started slowly. After three possessions each, the Ducks had 21 total yards while USC had 8 total yards. The difference in this game is that is simply took the Oregon offense a little longer to get into rhythm; in fact a lot longer as they really didn’t get fully into gear until somewhere in the third quarter. The Ducks offense still put up more rushing yards against the Trojans than anyone had all season, but it was not quite enough.

Darron Thomas almost led an incredible comeback win after trailing by 24 points in the third quarter

Defense: For the first time in quite some time, the defense seemed to regress. To be fair, the defense was missing three starters with Anthony Gildon not playing at all and Dion Jordan and Dewitt Stuckey missing most of the game with undisclosed injuries. The defense did an adequate job against the Trojans running game holding them below their season average in total yards and yards per carry.

Unfortunately, the loss of Jordan and Stuckey really affected the Ducks ability to get pressure on Barkley as Barkely did not face any heat the entire game. He was sacked once and did throw an interception on a tipped ball. Nonetheless, Barkley sat back and completed over 76% of his passes for 9.5 yards per attempt. When a quarterback has the time to do those things, it is very difficult to win the game.

Coaching: For the first time this season, I will say Chip was outcoached. This team, as admitted by Josh Huff after the game, was looking ahead after the Friday night upset of Oklahoma State and was clearly not focused early in the game. There were some questionable time management issues as well as a couple of play calls that seemed odd. To give credit where it is due, though, Kelly did get the team to respond to the adversity; just a little too late. With maybe another minute on the clock, the Ducks could have scored and won the game.

Around the rest of the conference:

Arizona State: Twitter rumors have started that Dennis Erickson will be spending his last season as Arizona State’s coach. That is as it should be because this team has collapsed. After dismantling USC earlier in the season, Arizona State looked like a lock to win the South division. Now they have lost 4 of their last 5 games and must beat Cal this weekend and cheer for USC to beat UCLA to get into the Conference Championship game.

Arizona: The Wildcats pulled off the Territorial Cup win against their rival ASU Sin Devils and have one game left to this lost season. Louisiana Lafayette is a respectable FCS team and will pose some problems for Arizona, but the win over the Sun Devils will ease the pain of the season this has become.

California: The Golden bears put up a valiant effort against Stanford and actually led 13-7 in the second quarter, but were not able to pull off the upset in the Big Game. California is bowl eligible and will face a reeling Arizona State team for bowl positioning.

Colorado: Colorado’s introduction to the Pac-12 is mercifully almost over. Tyler Hansen tried to play Joe Namath and guarantee a win against UCLA over the weekend. Instead the Buffaloes gave UCLA their most productive game of the season in points and got crushed 45-6. All that is left for Colorado is the hope that they can ruin Utah’s dream of making it to the first Pac-12 Championship Game.

Oregon State: The Beavers responded well to their adversity and dismantled a Washington team that has fallen off of the cliff at the end of the season. Oregon State is left hoping to pull off a major upset against Oregon to knock the Ducks out of Rose Bowl contention. Odds-makers do not like their chances.

Stanford: The game against Oregon seems to have caused a little hangover for the Cardinal as they struggled to put away an average Cal tea,. It was a rivalry game, though, and those can go in any direction. Luck had a good game, but nothing spectacular. Next up for the Cardinal is Notre Dame and a faint hope of a Conference Championship game if the Beavers can pull off a monumental upset.

USC: It looks like the rest helped Robert Woods. He is still not 100%, but the emergence of Marquise Lee has lessened the burden on Woods’ damaged shoulder. The Trojans dominated early and then held on for dear life as Oregon mounted a furious comeback attempt that fell short. Matt Barkley showed why he is likely to be the second pick int eh dfraft next season; maybe even the second overall pick. Barkley played his best game of the year just when the Trojans needed it.

UCLA: The Bruins still have two paths to the Conference Championship game; which is amazing. The most direct path? Beat USC. In the very likely event that UCLA loses that game, they would then need Colorado to upset Utah. They are crossing their fingers in Westwood and hoping that their former assistant coach (Embree) can pull off an upset of Utah.

Utah: The Utes now have a very realistic shot at representing the South division in the Pac-12 Championship Game. If UCLA loses, as expected Saturday, and Arizona State loses, Utah will play the North winner on the road for the right to go to the Rose Bowl. The Utes need some help, but given how poorly the Sun Devils have played of late, that is a very real possibility.

Washington: After opening the season with rave reviews and a quarterback that was as hot as anyone in the country, the wheels seem to have fallen off of the Washington train. The Huskies are also bowl eligible but have a very much improved Washington State squad coming up in the annual Apple Cup. Keith Price came on in relief of Nick Montana Saturday, so I would expect the Huskies to pull out all the stops to get a 7th win in that game.

Washington State: The Cougars have improved this season, but still have just 4 wins to show for all of their hard work. They almost destroyed Utah’s dream on Saturday. Unfortunately, 4 interceptions by their third string quarterback who had played so well against Arizona State did the Cougars in against Utah. They still outgained Utah and took them to the edge before losing in overtime. Now they shoot for state bragging rights.

PAC-12 Schedule for Week 13:

Colorado at Utah 12:30 PM
Oregon State at Oregon12:30 PM
LA-Lafayette at Arizona 1:00 PM
Washington State at Washington 4:30 PM
Notre Dame at Stanford 5:00 PM
UCLA at USC 7:00 PM
Cal at Arizona State 7:15 PM


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